The Breton sweater, also called sailor sweater, or even marinière or chandail, refers to those garments that we all picture. A sweater rooted in popular culture, from Brittany, wool or cotton, which over the decades has managed to make a place for itself in the world of fashion.
Known across borders as the “Breton shirt“, the marinière has been worn by many celebrities and fashion actors. From John Wayne to Brigitte Bardot, from Picasso to of course Jean-Paul Gaultier, it”s an emblem of an authentic French style, chic and workwear tinged with heritage that seduces men and women from all over the world.
Katherine Ross’ marinière in The Graduate
Some brands manage to honor the Breton sweater and the marinière. We obviously think of Armor Lux and Saint James who are undoubtedly the best known in the field. But other treasures are hidden in the lands of Brittany. Le Minor is one of them. An undisputed specialist in marine sweaters who was the official manufacturer of the French Navy for several decades. Small return in text and image on a label emblematic of Breton know-how.
Small History of the Marine Sweater and Sailor Made in France by Le Minor.
Two different things to start with. On one side we have the sailor sweater, also known as the “officer sweater“, on the other we have the sailor sweater also called Breton sweater, the famous “Breton Shirt”.
The sailor sweater therefore is it formerly called “chandail”, and, fun fact, comes from the contraction of “garlic merchants”. And yes formerly the sailors and market gardeners of Brittany were known for their spices, their onions (from Roscoff for example!), and also garlic. It is this sweater that you imagine, in a plain color, with long sleeves, with a button tab at the collar serving to put it on more easily.
The traditional navy sweater as made by Le Minor has kept that very tight waist, as it is a garment that is worn close to the body. The sweater that the label offers is true to this heritage of the Terre-Neuvas, those cod fishermen of the open sea who had to be equipped with a sweater with a thick knit, a solid collar, and almost waterproof thanks to its manufacture and its tightened wool.
The workshops of the Le Minor factory. The Breton sailor sweater at its best.
A dry and authentic touch for those made of pure virgin wool, rough and tough for adventurous men and women, and a softer touch for sweaters made of merino wool. A quantity of details conceal the know-how of the Breton label, and for an infallible quality-price ratio for high-end marine sweaters.
The marinière, the famous “Breton Shirt” is also an authentic product of the sailors and military of the time. Its stripes, the official number of 20 stripes indigo, were supposed to be used to spot a man who fell overboard.
Le Minor, like Saint James or Armor Lux has distinguished itself on this field since they were suppliers of the national navy in marinière and marine officer sweater.
The Le Minor Sailor. An iconic Breton fashion sweater
Today, the Le Minor sailor is a high-end product, made of 100% cotton and equipped with a rustic hand it is exported wonderfully, especially in Japan, land of fashion, or man and woman of Harajuku snatch the stripes of the Breton sailor.
The Minor Today. The FW21 Collection, Between Traditional Marine Sweater and Contemporary Hoodie.
The brand with a rich history and decades of heritage, in conjunction with the Manufacture de Bonneterie Lorientaise (which became Le Minor in 1982), has managed to remain in the global fashion landscape.
Unfortunately amputated from its biggest client, the French Navy (in favor of Saint James, which produces in Romania) in 2010, the label got two new owners in 2018: Sylvain Flet and Jérôme Permingeat.
These two entrepreneurs, buoyed by the success of their made-in-France men’s brand “Le Flageollet,” are righting the ship (marine metaphor, get it?), and modernizing the Le Minor clothing brand.
Modernizes it in communication and logistics, but keeps the heart of the label. A Breton product, made in Brittany for men and women, a highly professional and authentic work with sweaters worthy of officers of the national navy for a contained price.
In parallel, they develop a range slightly more contemporary, for men and women, introducing in their collections a hoodie, sweatshirt, sweater merino wool, tee shirt 100% cotton with a contemporary cut and size. Without forgetting of course the timeless and timeless mariners and sailor sweaters!